10 Crazy Urban Legends With Way More Truth To Them Than You Imagined


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10 Crazy Urban Legends With Way More Truth To Them Than You Imagined

GREGORY MYERS

 

The Internet is stuffed to the gills with urban legends of every kind. In general, they exist to shock you or make you believe something ridiculous in order to get a few more clicks. While sites like Listverse do their best to debunk these legends, some of us become so tired of all the nonsense that we simply dismiss anything absurd-sounding as soon as we hear it.

However, while most urban legends are indeed nonsense, some of the crazier ones have way more underlying truth than you would have ever imagined. Sometimes, the truth is even more disturbing than the legend.

10The Real Russian Sleep Experiment Kept Puppies Awake Until They Died


We’ve all heard of the crazy urban legend of the so-called “Russian Sleep Experiment,” an alleged experiment that later turned out to be a story made up for a creepypasta. The legend tells of several political prisoners who are offered their freedom in exchange for taking part in a sleep study where they are kept awake with gas for weeks in order to see how lack of sleep affects their behavior and functioning. By the time the entire ordeal is over, the test subjects have gone entirely and disturbingly insane, and the story seems unclear how much of it was lack of sleep and how much of it was gas.

While these experiments were not performed on people, a Russian scientist named Maria de Manaceine did perform some forced wakefulness experiments on live subjects during the 1890s. While it may not have been considered ethical to perform this experiment on people, she decided that puppies would be the next best thing to test. Multiple dogs were tested over a period of weeks and were kept awake through forced handling and walking. They were given more than enough food and water but quickly developed lesions on their brains and died within just a few days. The experiment, while horrendously cruel, proved that even with all other nutrients properly taken care of, the brain simply cannot handle a lack ofsleep—we need it like we need food and water.

9Black Cats May Not Be Sacrificed On Halloween, But They Are Used As Costume Accessories


One of the most persistent urban legends of all time, going back countless ages, is the belief that cats, especially those that are black or at least a solid color of some kind, are responsible for luck of various sorts. Black cats in particular are often thought of as bad luck, and other people accuse those who practice Satanism or witchcraft of using black cats in their alleged evil rituals—especially in ways that would injure or otherwise mistreat the animals.

The most persistent legend that has sprung up around all of this is that those who practice dark rituals are going out and adopting black cats during the days around Halloween so that they can sacrifice them during some kind of evil black mass. However, to date, there is no evidence whatsoever that this is happening in any kind of widespread form. This doesn’t mean that placement services that adopt out animals are keen on letting people just go and adopt a black cat during the days around Halloween. While a few have relaxed restrictions, some have made them stronger due to more realistic concerns: They’re worried that people looking to get a cat, especially a black one, right around Halloween may just be looking for a costume accessory and won’t properly take care of the animal in the long run.

8Tug-Of-War Games Have Taken Off Fingers And Entire Arms


A game of tug-of-war is a staple of picnics and other large events and is also one of the most wholesome and safe games you can play, as far as most people are concerned. It’s a team exercise that generally bonds people and leaves everyone laughing and enjoying themselves when one team wins and the other gets dragged along across the line. However, tug-of-war can be one of the most dangerous games in the entire world, especially when proper safety is not being accounted for. Now, we don’t want people to get the wrong idea; if you’re playing with just a few friends per side, these kind of issues are unlikely to be a problem, but the more people involved, the greater the chance that things can go terribly, terribly wrong.

As the old saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye . . . or a hand. And tug-of-war has a history of people losing lots of hands and fingers—far more than most people would ever have imagined. Back in the 1970s, a group of 2,300 middle school students in Pennsylvania attempted a world-record tug-of-war game. The rope snapped, and over 200 students were injured, with several losing their thumbs. In a 650-player game at a Boy Scout event in Germany in 1995, over 100 children were injured and two killed when the rope snapped. In another celebration competition in Taiwan in 1997, at least 40 people were injured, and two people lost their left arms, in a 1,600-person tug-of-war match.

There simply isn’t a rope designed to hold the pulling force of thousands ofhuman beings, and when it inevitably snaps, the forces have to go somewhere. With so many people involved, deaths and serious injuries are almost a certainty.

7A Lawyer Jumps Through A Plate Glass Window To His Death To Test Its Strength


The story of someone accidentally face-planting themselves through a glass window of a skyscraper and falling to their deaths is a rumor that has been thrown around for as long as skyscrapers have existed. While most people do think of skyscraper windows as pretty strong and figure they could withstand some serious abuse, they’re still happy to be careful around the windows and not tempt fate, even if the fear is unjustified. However, one man named Garry Hoy, back in 1993, decided that he didn’t believe any of that nonsense about windows not holding human weight and decided to put it to the test.

He first started by making it look like people were, indeed, foolish to believe that it was a bad idea to try to run face-first into a skyscraper window. He pulled off his stunt multiple times, each time believing that the chance of anything happening was exactly zero. However, one day, he tempted fate one too many times. He was showing off to some law school students at the high rise of the firm where he worked as a law partner and ran into the same window twice. Why he gave a second attempt on the exact same window we will never know, but on the second run at the window, it gave way, and Garry plummeted all the way down to his inevitable death.

As far as anyone knows, Hoy was a very bright young lawyer who wasn’tsuicidal and just had a trust for windows that he shouldn’t have had. When interviewed, a building engineer said that the windows simply weren’t built to stay in their frames when a 73-kilogram (160 lb) human goes flying into them. The engineer seemed more surprised that the tragedy hadn’t happened on one of his earlier attempts.

6Dogs Were Used As Living Drug Mules And Then Sliced Open Upon Reaching Their Destination


Some of the most horrific stories that have made the rounds involve smuggling, especially the evil lengths that some smugglers will go to, even involving their own children or pets if necessary. One of the most enduring urban legends claims that drugs were stuffed inside an already dead baby, and a woman was asked to pretend it was her child to get it through customs. Unfortunately for the smugglers, and the sanity of customs officials, she was caught with her macabre cargo. However, this popular story has never been proven to be true, and every account is from a site that can actually be fairly labeled as “fake news.”

While there’s no evidence that anyone ever stuffed a dead baby full of drugs, that doesn’t mean that drug traffickers haven’t gone to horrible lengths in order to hide their drugs. Dozens of people in Italy were arrested in 2013 when their heinous plot was uncovered: They were making dogsswallow drugs, using the dogs to sneak through customs, and then slicing the canines open upon arrival at their destination in order to get the drugs back. The whole plan finally started to unravel when a customs agent noticed that one of these dogs seemed sick and ordered an X-ray, finding the drugs in question and bringing an end to the smugglers’ diabolical scheme.

5Dozens Of Contact Lenses Became Fused Together In A Woman’s Eye Over The Years

Photo credit: Rupal Morjaria

We’ve probably all heard the legend that if you leave a contact lens in youreye for too long, it can become fused with the eyeball and permanently stuck. In some versions of this legend, the contact cannot be removed, while in others, it just requires incredibly painful surgery to get it unstuck. However, while countless people have temporarily had a contact lens get stuck for a little bit, there is no evidence that contact lenses can actually become permanently fused with the eye, and most people go to the doctor and get a stuck contact taken care of before it becomes a bigger problem.

However, one woman from the UK went to the doctors in 2017 for cataract surgery and ended up having the procedure postponed because of the absolutely shocking thing that they found inside her eye. When they pulled up her eyelid, they found a blue mass that turned out to be multiple contact lenses fused together. After another examination, they found several more, for a total of 27 contact lenses that had been stuck in her eye for years.

Apparently, the woman had experienced multiple occasions where she couldn’t find the contact in her eye, assumed it had fallen out, and just went ahead and put in another one, without ever bothering to consult a doctor as to whether that made sense as a strategy. While it is probably relieving for those with contacts to know that they won’t permanently fuse to your eyeball, it is also quite shocking to know that someone could manage to live having that many foreign objects stuck under their eyelid without going mad.

4People Think Of Dangerous ‘Challenges’ As An Urban Legend, But Chubby Bunny Has Killed


Nearly every year, we hear about yet another stupid “challenge” that teens or children are undertaking in order to prove themselves and be silly in front of their peers. Many of these are a controversy over nothing and are quite harmless, and others simply aren’t happening on the level some parents imagine. For example, much of the hysteria lately centers around a “challenge” involving Tide Pods, but while the media would have you believe this is a horrific epidemic, and calls to poison control about the issue have spiked, there is no evidence yet of any death because of it.

However, while some challenges such as the above are overhyped, or actually do good like the Ice Bucket Challenge, some of the more innocent-sounding challenges are actually quite dangerous. The Cinnamon Challenge has caused people to go to the emergency room on more than one occasion because they started to choke, and the Chubby Bunny challenge has caused the deaths of children and adults alike. The challenge consists of the individuals involved trying to stuff as many marshmallows into their mouths as they can and then say “chubby bunny” with the proper articulation. If you spit, cough, or choke, you lose. Unfortunately, games like this can be a choking hazard, especially when unsupervised children are involved, and Chubby Bunny could claim yet more lives if people continue to play it. Luckily, its popularity seems to have waned greatly over the years in favor of other challenges.

3Skinny Jeans Can Actually Cut Off Circulation And Cause Medical Complications


Many people have heard the urban legend of a woman who wore her tight skinny jeans so much that she could no longer properly use her legs. The only solution was to amputate them from her body entirely, leaving her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The story has been passed around by dozens of news outlets, but they all go back to the same tabloid story that has nothing whatsoever to truly back it up. However, that doesn’t mean that wearing skinny jeans is entirely safe or all that good for you.

Now, if you’re worrying about getting a blood clot and dying, you should rest easy. Doctors don’t believe the tightness from skinny jeans can actually cause a blood clot. However, they do believe that if you wear them tightly enough and do a lot of moving around, you could potentially squash the nerves (not pinch them, though) and temporarily give yourself serious discomfort and make it very hard to walk on your own. A case study in Australia tells of a woman who wore her skinny jeans while helping a friend move. She did a lot of bending and squatting, and she started to feel sore, swollen, and numb in the legs as the day wore on. When she went to walk home, she collapsed from the numbness and had to be taken to thehospital. She kept her legs just fine, but it was a few days of treatment before she was let out and was able to walk normally again on her own.

2Hanging Your Head Out The Window Of A Car Might Not Decapitate You, But You Can Still Die


Many of us have stuck an arm, or even a whole head, out the car window occasionally to enjoy a breeze or even allowed a child or a pet to do so. It would seem on its face as harmless fun to most people, who don’t really consider just how close cars often get to each other or to other things they are passing. Now, there has long been the legend going around, perhaps started by the more worried mothers of the world, that if you stick your hand or head out the window of the car, you may just hit something and have that entire body part sheared clean off.

This is simply not the case. Unless you’re actually hitting a sharp enough surface, it is unlikely that you’re going to have your head ripped from your body. And likewise, unless your arm hits an edge or is caught on something, it is unlikely to be pulled clear off. However, this doesn’t mean that there is no danger. There have been multiple recorded incidents of people banging an arm while holding it out the window and breaking it or hitting their head while hanging it out and dying because their neck was snapped internally.

1There Is Little Evidence That Cell Phone Use Causes Cancer, But Landlines Can Kill You


The risk of getting some kind of cancer or other brain damage from using acell phone is something that has been tested and speculated on since essentially the beginning of cell phones but has never been truly proven or disproven to anyone’s satisfaction. Even if there were some risk, it would likely be to those who are constantly holding the phone up to their ear—a way of using phones that is becoming less common with each passing generation.

However, while older people tend to like to decry the dangers of new technology, in this particular case, when it comes to telephones, the greater and more proven danger relies with landlines, the older kid on the block. While deaths from doing so are relatively rare, the warning to not use your landline during a thunderstorm is a very good one that should be heeded. If the lightning strikes the telephone line while you’re using it, the risk of electrocution is real, and there are indeed well-documented deaths that have been caused by this phenomenon. The younger generation should beware, though: Talking on or using a cell phone that is plugged into a charger could potentially hold a similar risk, especially if the charger isn’t plugged into a surge protector.

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10 Heartbreaking Tales Of Faithful Dogs


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10 Heartbreaking Tales Of Faithful Dogs

BEN GAZUR

 

Dogs are well-known as a human’s best friend. Some people may prefer cats, but if you want a pet that will show you affection and care whether you live or die, then a dog is the pet for you.

The loyalty which makes dogs such devoted friends is so strong that it can last unto death and beyond. Here are 10 stories of faithful dogs that will make you want to hug your best friend extra tightly.

10Shep

In 1936, a shepherd in Montana became ill in the field and had to be rushed to the hospital. His dog, Shep, refused to be separated from his owner and followed the man, whose identity is unknown, to the hospital. While Shep waited for his master at the hospital doors, he was fed by a local nun. Unfortunately, the shepherd died.

When the man’s body was carried to the local train station to be transported home, Shep followed. Workers at the station remember the dog whining as the casket was loaded onto the train and sped away from the faithful dog.

For the next five years, Shep remained by the train tracks. As each train arrived (around four trains a day), he would carefully examine each person who got off as if searching for his master. Shep became famous because of his long vigil and was fed by the staff at the station. As he aged, he became deaf and failed to hear an approaching train. It struck and killed the loyal dog.

Shep now has a bronze statue set up in Fort Benton to recognize his patient wait to be reunited with a friend who would never return.

9Capitan

Photo credit: odditycentral.com

When Manuel Guzman died in 2006, his beloved dog, Capitan, disappeared from the family home. No one saw the dog for a week until he turned up at his master’s grave. The family had never taken Capitan to the site, so it is a mystery as to how he found Guzman’s grave.

Now when the Guzman family visits the graveyard every Sunday, they go to see Martin’s resting place and to check that Capitan is doing well. They had tried to take Capitan home several times after he first went to the grave, but he escaped to return to his owner’s side.

Sometimes, the dog will leave the graveyard to go to the family home. But he always returns at night to rest beside his master. The staff at the cemetery has taken over the task of feeding the loyal dog. They say that he will wander around the site during the day but lies down on his master’s grave at 6:00 PM sharp. As of today, Capitan is still waiting for his master.

8Gelert

Photo credit: historic-uk.com

In the 13th century, legend has it that Prince Llywelyn the Great of Wales had a faithful dog called Gelert who was his favorite among his entire pack of hunting dogs. When the prince sounded his hunting horn one day, all his dogs appeared, except Gelert.

The prince went on the hunt, leaving his dog behind. Upon the prince’s return, Gelert greeted his master joyfully. But something was wrong. The dog was covered in blood. Immediately, Llywelyn thought about his young son, who been left at home.

There was chaos in the palace. The child’s cradle was knocked over, and there was more blood splattered across the room. Assuming the worst, the prince took his sword and slew Gelert.

Only then did his infant son start crying. He was underneath the cradle, and behind it was a huge dead wolf. Gelert had saved the child and killed the dangerous beast attacking him. The prince honored his dead dog for its heroism by giving Gelert a public funeral.

Oddly, there is an almost identical story from France. In that tale, the dog was called Guinefort and it was discovered too late that the dog had saved a baby from a snake. Guinefort received more than just a funeral. For hundreds of years, the dog was revered as a saint locally even though the Catholic Church disapproved.

7Waghya

Photo credit: Rajasekar

In India in the 17th century, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a warrior who battled his way to becoming king and founder of the Maratha Empire. Although Shivaji was revered by some as a hero of Indian nationalism, there are legends that he did not accomplish all his feats alone.

Waghya, his dog, seems to have spent years beside Shivaji. When Shivaji died, the king underwent a traditional cremation on a funeral pyre. Waghya was not content to stay beside his master’s tomb. As the funeral pyre was lit, the dog leaped into the flames and died. When a memorial was built to the great Shivaji, one was also erected to his faithful dog.

Until 2012, Waghya’s monument was a popular site with most locals. Some people objected, however. They claimed that the story of Waghya’s sacrifice was just a legend and was insulting to Shivaji. A large group of people gathered, pulled down Waghya’s statue, and threw it into a neighboring valley. Seventy-three people were arrested, and Waghya’s monument has not yet been restored.

6Fido

Many dogs who remain faithful to their dead masters only receive full recognition for their loyalty after death. Fido, an Italian dog whose name means “Faithful,” was one of the few honored during his lifetime. Pictures survive of Fido being shown the bronze statue erected in his honor.

Starting life as a stray on the street, Fido was adopted by Carlo Soriani in 1941. Soriani discovered Fido as a puppy trapped in a small gully and rescued him. Fido was true to his name and followed Soriani everywhere. Each morning, he would follow his master to the stop where Soriani caught his bus to work. Then Fido waited until Soriani returned from his factory job.

All was well until December 1943 when an Allied bombing raid killed Soriani in his factory. Fido waited for the bus that evening, but his master never returned. Fido eventually went home to Soriani’s widow. But each evening for the next 14 years, the dog would return to the bus stop and wait for his master.

To honor the dog’s faithfulness, the town awarded him a gold medal, freedom from paying taxes, and a statue.

5The Lapdog Of Mary, Queen Of Scots

Photo credit: historic-uk.com

Mary, Queen of Scots, led a turbulent life. She became queen of Scotland at just six days old, was briefly the queen consort of France, and lost her own throne after returning to Scotland. Fleeing to England, she was held captive by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, because Mary’s Catholicism was a threat to Elizabeth’s rule.

One of the few constants in Mary’s life was the collection of small lapdogs that she had gained in France. During the long years of her captivity, it was said that Mary would speak to her dogs to stave off her loneliness.

Eventually, Queen Elizabeth signed Mary’s death warrant because plots were springing up to place Mary on the English throne. As Mary was led to the axeman’s block, no one noticed that she was not alone. Hiding underneath her skirts was one of her dogs.

When Mary’s head was cut off, her skirts were seen moving and the little dog crawled out. Covered in blood, the lapdog huddled in the gap between the queen’s body and her head. According to legend, the dog was only removed with difficulty and starved itself to death.

4Ruswarp

Photo credit: The Telegraph

When Graham Nuttall did not return from his day of walking in the mountains of Wales, his friends raised the alarm. It was January 1990, and the weather was severe. Search parties spent a week looking, but they failed to find any sign of Nuttall or his dog, Ruswarp.

Eventually, the search was called off. Eleven weeks later, another walker stumbled on Nuttall’s body beside a stream. Ruswarp, weak and starving, was found beside him. After 11 weeks in the snow and rain while keeping vigil beside his owner, Ruswarp was so weak that he had to be carried down the mountain. He lived long enough to attend Nuttall’s funeral but died soon afterward.

In 2009, a bronze statue of Ruswarp was unveiled at a train station which Nuttall had been instrumental in reopening. Ruswarp had added his voice to a petition that saved the train station by placing his paw print beside the thousands of human signatures.

3Kostya

Photo credit: twistedsifter.com

In the Russian city of Tolyatti, a dog could be seen waiting beside a busy road all day long. Despite the efforts of locals to find a new home for the dog, he would always return to his spot beside the road. When they began to investigate, they discovered that the dog had a tragic past.

The dog was waiting at the site of a car crash. A young girl had been killed instantly, and her father had died in the hospital from his injuries. The only survivor of the crash was their dog. For the dog’s loyalty to his owner, Tolyatti’s citizens started to call him Kostya (“Loyal”).

Kostya stayed at his post for seven years looking for the return of his family. When he was found dead in the woods nearby, local people mourned. The city set up a statue of Kostya called “Loyalty.” Now, newlywed couples rub the statue’s nose in hopes of the spouses being as faithful to each other as Kostya was to his family.

2Hachiko

Photo credit: Momotarou2012

Hidesaburo Ueno was a professor of agricultural studies in Japan who wanted a rare Akita dog. Finally finding one, he adopted the dog in 1924 and called it Hachiko. The two soon became inseparable.

Each day, Hachiko would walk with Ueno to the train station. Then the dog would return in the evening to wait patiently for his master. Just one year after they had met each other, Ueno died suddenly while lecturing. Hachiko waited in vain beside the station for his owner.

People soon began to notice this faithful dog and would leave food and treats for Hachiko as rewards for his loyalty. The story of Hachiko spread, and his example of devotion was widely praised in Japan. With Hachiko present, a statue to the dog was unveiled in 1934.

When he died in 1935, Hachiko was mourned. A photo shows people gathered sadly around his body. The statue of Hachiko is a popular monument in Tokyo. Those wishing to get even closer to the dog can do so in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo where Hachiko is stuffed and on display.

1Greyfriars Bobby

Photo credit: The Telegraph

On the corner of Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh, tourists crowd around a small bronze statue of a dog to get a picture of it. Just across the road is Greyfriars Kirkyard, where the legend of Greyfriars Bobby came into being.

The traditional story is that John Gray, an Edinburgh policeman, had a terrier called Bobby that accompanied him on his rounds. When Gray died, he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. However, Bobby would not be parted from his master.

Despite the best efforts of the graveyard keeper, the dog would not leave. Eventually, people came specifically to see Bobby keeping guard next to Gray’s grave. When Bobby died after a 14-year vigil, he was buried close to his master in the kirkyard and given a gravestone that reads: “Greyfriars Bobby—died 14th January 1872—aged 16 years—Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”

Of course, there are those who cast doubt on the story. One researcher has claimed that the staff tending the churchyard lured a dog to the grave with food and spread the rumor of his loyalty to encourage visitors. Pubs near the churchyard profited from the increased attention.

It has even been suggested that when one “Bobby” died, it was replaced with a similar dog to keep the Bobby business going. But that’s a depressing idea. Most people prefer to believe the idea of the faithful dog.

The ‘Screaming Mummy’ Was a Murderer Who Killed Himself


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The ‘Screaming Mummy’ Was a Murderer Who Killed Himself

The ‘Screaming Mummy’ Was a Murderer Who Killed Himself

The “screaming mummy,” likely that of Prince Pentawere, a man who tried (likely successfully) to kill his own father pharaoh Ramesses III, is now on public display at the Egyptian Museum.

Credit: Egyptian Antiquities Ministry 

He’s back. Prince Pentawere, a man who tried (probably successfully) to murder his own father, Pharaoh Ramesses III, and later took his own life after he was put on trial, is now on public display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Pentawere’s mummy, popularly known as the “screaming mummy,” was not properly mummified. No embalming fluid was used, and his body was allowed to naturally mummify, with his mouth agape and his facial muscles strained in order to make it appear as if the mummy were screaming. Whether he died screaming or whether he was made to look like that after death is unclear. Those burying him then wrapped his body in sheepskin, a material the ancient Egyptians considered to be ritually impure. Eventually, someone placed Pentawere’s mummy in a cache of other mummies in a tomb at Deir el-Bahari.

The prince can take solace in the fact that his assassination attempt appears to have been successful. In 2012, a team of scientists studying the mummy of Ramesses III (reign 1184-1155 B.C.) found that Ramesses III died after his throat was slashed, likely in the assassination attempt that Pentawere helped to orchestrate. The scientists also performed genetic analysis, which confirmed that the “screaming mummy” was a son of Ramesses III. And, based on the mummy’s unusual burial treatment, the researchers confirmed that it is likely Pentawere’s mummy. [In Photos: The Mummy of King Ramesses III]

The Judicial Papyrus of Turin, as modern-day scholars call it, is a manuscript that documents the trials that occurred after Pentawere’s apparently successful attempt at killing his father in 1155 B.C.

A group of butlers who remained loyal to Ramesses III — and his successor, Ramesses IV — oversaw the trial of a vast number of people who had allegedly aided Pentawere, condemning them to death or mutilation. These conspirators included military and civil officials, women in the royal harem (where the murder of Ramesses III may have happened), and a number of men who were in charge of the royal harem.

Prince Pentawere was allegedly assisted by his mother, a woman named Tiye (no relation to King Tutankhamun), who was one of Ramesses III’s wives. The judicial papyrus says that Prince Pentawere “was brought in because he had been in collusion with Tiye, his mother, when she had plotted the matters with the women of the harem” (translation by A. de Buck). Pentawere “was placed before the butlers in order to be examined; they found him guilty; they left him where he was; he took his own life,” the papyrus says.

How exactly Pentawere killed himself is a matter of debate among scholars, with poisoning and hanging (or a combination of the two) generally regarded as being the most likely methods.

While the dead Pharaoh Ramesses III was initially buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, his mummy was moved after the robbery of his tomb. Interestingly, his mummy was dumped in the same mummy cache at Deir el-Bahari as Pentawere’s. The mummies of the murdered father and his killer son rested together until the family of a man named Abd el-Rassul found the cache in the 19th century.

The screaming mummy is only being displayed temporarily. The display of the mummy has received widespread media attention and it is not clear how long it will be displayed for.

Originally published on Live Science.

This Ancient Society Buried Disabled Children Like Kings


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This Ancient Society Buried Disabled Children Like Kings

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This Ancient Society Buried Disabled Children Like Kings

About 34,000 years ago, people buried these two young boys head to head.

Credit: Illustration by K. Gavrilov; Antiquity 2018

About 34,000 years ago, a group of hunters and gatherers buried their dead — including two boys with physical conditions — using the utmost care. However, these dead were buried in fairly different ways, a new study finds.

The roughly 10- and 12-year-old boys were buried head to head in a long, slender grave filled with riches, including more than 10,000 mammoth ivory beads, more than 20 armbands, about 300 pierced fox teeth, 16 ivory mammoth spears, carved artwork, deer antlers and two human fibulas (calf bones) laid across the boys’ chests, the researchers said.

In contrast, the remains of a roughly 40-year-old man, an individual who would have had more time and physical ability to contribute to the group, had far fewer treasures: about 3,000 mammoth ivory beads, 12 pierced fox canines, 25 mammoth ivory arm bands and a stone pendant. [See Images of the Ancient Man and Boys’ Burials]

“From the point of view of the mortuary behavior, the burial of the adult is, in fact, very different from the burial of the children,” study co-lead researcher Erik Trinkaus, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, told Live Science.

The bodies at Sunghir, including this one of a roughly 40-year-old man, were covered with red ochre.
The bodies at Sunghir, including this one of a roughly 40-year-old man, were covered with red ochre.

Credit: Illustration by K. Favrilov; Antiquity 2018

Researchers have known about the Sunghir burials for about half a century. The burials, which date to the Mid Upper Paleolithic, are located on the northeast outskirts of Vladimir, Russia, and were excavated from 1957 to 1977.

When these hunters and gatherers lived, about 34,000 years ago, the region was going through aslightly warmer period than the ice ages before and after it, the researchers noted. The warmer weather explains, in part, how these ancient people were able to dig graves in what would have otherwise been frozen ground, the researchers added.

In total, there are 10 men and women buried at Sunghir, but the two boys have, by far, the most spectacular riches of the lot, the researchers said. The boys also have physical conditions that likely limited the individuals during their short lives.

Both boys experienced repeated periods of extreme stress, according to an analysis of their dental enamel, the study said. What’s more, the 10-year-old boy’s thighbones are “exceptionally bowed and short,” Trinkaus and co-lead researcher Alexandra Buzhilova, an anthropologist at Lomonosov Moscow State University, in Russia, wrote in the study. But otherwise, the young boy was physically active, an analysis of his skeleton showed.

Meanwhile, the 12-year-old boy’s teeth had almost no wear, “which, to us, doesn’t sound like much, but people from this time wore their teeth down quickly,” Trinkaus said. Analyses of his skeleton indicate that the boy was bedridden, Trinkaus added.

It’s possible the group was feeding the 12-year-old boy soft foods, such as porridge, but “it is really bizarre to have an individual who looks like he was bedridden in a group of hunters and gatherers who were extremely mobile,” Trinkaus said.

These two boys aren’t the only people with disabilities known to have received burials during this time period. “Indeed, in the Mid Upper Paleolithic, individuals with marked developmental or degenerative abnormalities are relatively common in the burial record, accounting for a third of the sufficiently well-preserved individuals,” the researchers wrote in the study.

However, it was slightly less common for youngsters to receive such a burial during this period, the researchers said. [10 Things That Make Humans Special]

What really caught the researchers’ attention was the diversity of the burial artifacts. Some people had only a few fox canines and mammoth ivory beads, while other individuals didn’t have anything. This indicates social complexity, because it shows that people were treated differently in death, and probably in life, too, Trinkaus said.

The finding shows that you didn’t have to be a “big, adult male hunter” to get an extravagant burial during the Mid Upper Paleolithic, said Lawrence Straus, a distinguished professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, who wasn’t involved with the study.

“In this case, adolescents — people with disabilities or pathologies that would have limited their full functioning — are getting some amazing treatment,” Straus told Live Science.

The study was published online today (Feb. 13) in the journal Antiquity.

Original article on Live Science.

The Solar Storm Hitting Earth Today Might Look Awesome


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The Solar Storm Hitting Earth Today Might Look Awesome

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The Solar Storm Hitting Earth Today Might Look Awesome

Credit: Mario Ziebart/ Shutterstock

Tonight (Feb. 15), skywatchers may be rewarded by a dazzling atmospheric show ­ — thanks to a halo of radiation that blasted from the sun on Monday (Feb. 12).

A minor geomagnetic storm has just settled over Canada and the northern United States, according to a news alert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center — and it could result in visible aurora borealis in some states tonight. The aurora can most likely be seen north of the Canadian border, NOAA said, but could appear in the night sky as far south as northern Maine and Michigan.

Depending on its strength, solar storms like this one can cause adverse effects in the atmosphere, including temporary power grid disruptions or satellite failures. Tonight, however, NOAA predicts only a minor event characterized by clearer-than-normal auroras in the sky. [Aurora photos: 10 Breathtaking Views of The Northern Lights]

Auroras in the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, also called the northern lights, periodically glisten in the night sky thanks to solar activity like the storm headed our way. But why? The reason begins about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) away, on the surface of the sun.

The sun’s surface is a tangle of superhot, constantly moving gases that generate huge, powerful magnetic force fields, according to NASA. (The magnetic field can be described by magnetic lines, which map the direction and strength of the magnetic field at any location.) The regions where these magnetic forces are the strongest form sunspots, which are volatile, visibly darker patches on the star’s surface. If the magnetic lines near these sunspots become too tangled, they can burst into eruptions of radiation known as solar flares. These flares may also be accompanied by huge belches of radiation and particlescalled coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

“These coronal mass ejections are a big blast of up to a billion tons of plasma gas,” which brings with it a huge magnetic field, Bill Murtagh, a program coordinator at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado told Live Science. “And they’re usually traveling at about two to three million miles an hour.”

Many CMEs shoot harmlessly into empty space. But if a CME erupts while facing Earth (as Monday’s did), the solar fallout can bridge the distance to our planet’s atmosphere within a few days, depending on currents caused by solar winds. (Solar winds are continuous streams of charged particles or plasma that come from the sun.)

These incoming solar storms are usually little cause for concern here on Earth; the planet is constantly being bombarded by radiation, magnetic waves and other charged particles from the sun. Earth’s own magnetic field — an invisible shield generated by electric currents emitted from the planet’s outer core — deflects most of these particles and protects the atmosphere from harmful ultraviolet radiation. However, during a CME (like the storm headed our way), charged particles can travel down the magnetic field lines at Earth’s north and south poles and enter the atmosphere.

“Depending how the CME and the Earth’s magnetic field couple, those energetic particles will come flowing in, penetrating into the atmosphere and striking the atoms and molecules in our atmosphere,” Murtagh said. “Those energetic particles excite the atoms in our atmosphere [like oxygen and nitrogen], stripping electrons away from them, and that causes them to light up.”

And so, the northern lights streak across the sky. The colors you’ll see depend both on the type of molecule being struck and their altitude; oxygen gas, for example, tends to glow green at low altitudes (up to 150 miles, or 241 km)and red at higher altitudes. The gorgeous result can often be seen with the naked eye and captured with most standard cameras.

If you live far enough north to see it tonight, enjoy the interstellar show.

Originally published on Live Science.